I am without a doubt the cliché college student. Unable to afford 4 year tuition after graduating high school I’m attending community college, saving every penny I can, scavenging to try and find out how to pay for the masters degree I dream of earning. Looking down the road I realize that I have at least five more years of schooling and feel immediately suffocated. I am, like so many in my position, struggling under the crushing anxiety of ridiculously inflated university tuition prices. There just seems to be so many questions; how will I afford it? Can I even do this? Will I be in debt for the rest of my life? Parents and grandparents assure me it’s possible, saying that they did it, but that was 20 years ago when college was twenty thousand less than it is now. I pinch pennies, I’m living at home, I use coupons by the handful, I apply for scholarships, I work hard at school. Yet despite all that I’ve tried to put into my financial future, many times it all feels sad and useless. What’s the difference if I use that buy-one-get-one coupon? Is a 50 dollar scholarship going to make a difference when I have a hundred thousand dollars of growing student debt? I find myself defeated before I’ve started. It is has taken me some time to learn that at these moments of intense financial anxiety, one should look outward to find some perspective. For me, my perspective lives about ten miles away.

One of the happiest families I know lives without one of the most cherished aspects of our society. They are my perspective. They live with five beautiful kids in a small well-loved house they rent downtown. Living with no credit cards, cash only, lots of thriftiness, a home run t-shirt printing company, a handful of crumpled coupons, a handmade hotdog cart, many goodwill runs and open hands, they are without a doubt some of the most joyful people you will ever meet. So what’s missing? Quite simply, the Aguirres live without materialism. In a world that encourages the modern American dream of the pursuit of objects and funds, they live in the simple joy of what they have, rather than under the shadow of what they could have. They are free from the oppression of anxiety caused by worrying about money. They are overwhelming generous and creative with what they have. Nothing is wasted. Drop by their hand painted hotdog cart and you’re greeted with a crushing handshake and warm smile and a guaranteed fight to pay for your meal. Buy a t-shirt and expect a quick delivery with a hug and a non-negotiable discount. What strikes me most is not only the spirit of joy they embrace in their endeavors, but their commitment to quality as they make the most of what they have. I can guarantee you one of the best hotdogs of your life, one of the most comfortable t-shirts, and most personable genuine service you’ll ever find. They know how to take a dollar and stretch it rice paper thin while happily using it as a trampoline. They never fear. Their little is always more than enough.

In a time where so much of my focus is drawn to monetary matters as a student, the Aguirres make me realize the power of small action and the power of letting go of what I could have. They give me the perspective to try and release my anxiety by trusting in small action; using that coupon, pinching that penny. They make me believe in coupons not as a way of obtaining more, but as a way of making the most of what I have. I can do my best and that is all I am capable of. These warm people embrace an ideal we have lost in an age of pursuing funds: how to take a little and treat it like a king’s serving.

A note from us at I’m In: We work with nearly 1,000 merchants to save on just about every product that you NEED.  The more that you save on the everyday items, the more you can keep in your pocket!  Search our store directory every time you shop to add up the savings.